Bloaters celebrate promotion

“We're going up, up, up!” reverberated around Bury Town's old wooden stand on Tuesday as the Bloaters celebrated winning promotion with three games to spare.

“We're going up, up, up!” reverberated around Bury Town's old wooden stand on Tuesday as the Bloaters celebrated winning promotion with three games to spare.

They did it in style with a 5-1 win over Team Bury, and captain Stewart Roach scored on his 300th first team appearance, writes Gerry Brown.

“It's the best thing I've ever achieved in football,” he said afterwards, all thoughts of when he played at Old Trafford for Norwich City Youth and at Wembley for England U16s gone from his mind. “The team is a great bunch of lads, we're like a big happy family.

“Tongy and Trev have done wonders this season, and let's not forget Mazze (physio Marianne McNally) for keeping us all fit. My target when I rejoined the club was to win something within three years - we've done it in two!

“For Yarmouth promotion is a

massive achievement and that's good enough for me.”

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It's ironic that Great Yarmouth Town and Norwich City should both be promoted in the same season. It was in the same (2004-2005) season that they were both relegated.This season's effort is the first time Yarmouth have won a promotion, having been members of competitions with only one division until the Eastern Counties League expanded to two divisions and then getting relegated five years ago.

Yarmouth have three games left to win the Division One title, though should they beat both Fakenham tomorrow (Wellesley, 3pm) and FC Clacton on Tuesday (Wellesley, 8pm) they won't need anything from the final game at Whitton next Saturday. A win against rock-bottom Fakenham (acknowledged as a potential “banana skin”) and a draw with Clacton would leave the Bloaters needing to win at Whitton.

Should it come down to goal difference, Yarmouth's is inferior to that of both Clacton and Brantham but they have made strenuous efforts in the last two games to make up ground, scoring 11 goals. Another 11 would see the Bloaters top 100 for the season.

“My aim at the start of the season was to finish in the top three,” said Bloaters' boss Paul Tong. “At the Gorleston game I revised that target upwards to winning the title if they could just win the last seven games, and the team has responded to the challenge! Fakenham are a bit of a bogey team for us though I have a fair record against them myself, and Clacton will also want to have a say in matters, so it's everything still to play for. I hope the supporters will turn out in force to back up our efforts.”

Goalkeeper Michael Hilton has had an outstanding season, securing 17 complete shut-outs and conceding only one goal in each of 21 other games. To date, the Bloaters have conceded only 23 goals in 33 league games, a total lower than any other Division One team in at least the past seven full seasons.

Hilton was honoured last Sunday by being asked to play in the Ipswich goal in the Norwich v Ipswich Legends match at the Wellesley and apart from a Huckerby penalty he covered himself in glory, keeping out everything else that the Canaries (including fiercesome striker Iwan Roberts) could throw at him as Ipswich won 2-1.

The latest edition of the Ridgeons League Bulletin has some great news for both the borough's teams. In an analysis of Sportsmanship as marked by the match referees, the Bloaters first and reserve teams came out top in their respective divisions and their bench personnel were considered the best behaved in Division One. Gorleston's pitch, hospitality and facilities were adjudged by the referees to be the best in Division One.

Yarmouth supporters will be able to vote for their player of the year at Saturday's Fakenham game or Tuesday's showdown with FC Clacton. Voting slips will be available on the gate and should be returned to the club by the end of Tuesday's match.

The Bloaters' Youth U18 side also figured in a goal extravaganza on Tuesday, winning their final game of the season 6-5 at Cromer Youth. Though they were 4-1 up at half-time, the home side levelled to 5-5 before Yarmouth notched a very late winner. Yarmouth scorers were Lee Roscoe 3, George Barnden, Ross Catchpole and Josh Trett.

The annual Bloaters' Veterans game takes place tomorrow after the Fakenham fixture. Some of the greats from the past will again be on show, including the likes of Mark Vincent, Steve Blackett, Alan Barnard, Steve Cockrill and Martin Woolsey while Martin Esherwood is the team manager. For the 18th time, St Albans City Veterans provide the opposition and the match kicks off around 5.30pm. Admission is free to all.